NEWS FLASH: Trump outlines the procedure for declassifying papers seized at Mar-a-Lago

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Trump's last attempt also failed

According to the former president’s administration, there was a rule that secret papers would be automatically declassified if they were transported to a house.

The confidential documents the FBI confiscated from Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort were declassified under a “standing order” while he was president, according to the White House, which permitted him to bring them to the White House residence at night to continue working.

As the FBI and Biden Justice Department look into whether the president stole records covered by the Presidential Records Act or improperly handled classified materials under the Espionage Act, allegations included in a search warrant made public by a federal court in Florida on Friday, the official statement is likely to become the focus of the president’s legal defense.

The president’s argument is supported by two recent executive orders—issued in 2003 by George W. Bush and in 2009 by Barack Obama—that specifically exempt the president and vice president from having to adhere to the rigorous declassification procedures that every other federal agency and official must follow. These executive orders are based on the legal principle that the president and vice president are the U.S. government’s ultimate declassifying authorities.

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Trump has been certain for weeks that any documents in his possession with secret markings that were created after he left office had already been declassified. The statement provided to Just the News on Friday evening detailed just how that declassification came about in his head.

These records couldn’t have been classified since they were in Mar-a-Lago, according to the former president’s staff. “Everyone occasionally has to carry their job home, as we can all attest to. The same is true of American presidents. President Trump frequently brought materials, including secret documents, home from the Oval Office in order to be ready for work the following day.

The statement said, “He had a standing order that materials carried out of the Oval Office and into the house were presumed to be declassified. “The President of the United States is the only person with the authority to classify and declassify materials. The idea that some paper-pushing bureaucrat, with classification authority delegated BY THE PRESIDENT, needs to approve of declassification is absurd.”

In the latter portion of his presidency, Trump employed two former top advisers who claimed to have knowledge that the president frequently kept documents at home rather than returning them to the Staff Secretary or the intelligence official who had delivered them. One former official said, “I don’t know anyone or anything that challenges it” when asked if there was a standing order.

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In most cases, papers that a president has declassified are subsequently recovered and labelled as such. This is often done by drawing a line through the previous classification marks. However, past senior advisors to previous presidents admitted that the president’s ability to declassify was unlimited and occasionally led to choices that were made right away.

One former administration official shared a story of how his boss declassified material by simply discussing what he had seen in a top-secret marked paper with a foreign leader while the two were speaking. During a meeting, a president received a top-secret paper, and one official stood up to leave since his clearance was only at the secret level, according to another official.

According to the source who spoke to Just the News, “the president promptly permitted the worker to stay and ingest the top-secret material since it benefitted the president’s work at that moment.”

The DOJ, the intelligence community, and the president’s critics in Congress are certain to refute the president’s claims. According to authorities on national security law, however, the Bush and Obama executive orders from 2003 and 2009 made it plain that the president had broad authority to declassify, and courts have typically upheld this position.

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Obama’s executive order no. 13526, issued in 2009, outlined the rigorous process that all federal officials and agencies had to adhere to in order to declassify information, but it specifically exempted the office-holding president and vice president.

The Obama order stated that “Information originated by the incumbent President or the incumbent Vice President; the incumbent President’s White House Staff; the incumbent Vice President’s Staff; the incumbent President’s Committees, Commissions, or Boards; or other entities within the Executive Office of the President that solely advise and assist the incumbent President is exempt from the provisions of paragraph (a) of this section.”

According to insiders, it is probable that the FBI would look for any witnesses or officials who knew about the “standing order” as it was stated in the Trump statement or who can attest to its existence. But in the end, authorities claimed that the president’s declassification powers were broad and that the courts would probably agree.

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